Friday, June 12, 2009

Federal Government Knows about Hiring Practice Corruption, but Won't End It

Here are excerpts from a 2003 Government publication called "Reforming Federal Hiring: Beyond Faster and Cheaper" It shows that they know there is massive abuse.

"Hiring highly qualified people is one of the most important factors in developing a successful organization. Accordingly, the overall purpose of a hiring system is to identify, attract, and hire the candidates who can best meet the needs of the organization. Because the Federal Government must be answerable to the American public, it is particularly important that its hiring decisions be based on merit and support the public’s interests.

"On the other hand, making selections that are influenced by non-merit factors can result in hiring candidates who do not possess the skills necessary to perform the job. Poor selections can result from taking shortcuts in: defining the needs of the job; recruiting from the best sources; or assessing candidates. These poor selections can then ultimately increase costs and decrease productivity.

Public Notice and Recruitment: Excepted service positions do not require “public notice” as defined in the competitive service. This means that agencies are not required to notify OPM of vacancies for which applicants outside the agency may apply and are not required to post those jobs on USAJOBS. Nevertheless, these positions are still subject to the merit system principles (in what way?).

"Our research suggests that information about excepted service positions is frequently difficult to find. These positions are often not posted on USAJOBS or the agency’s Web site because they are not required to be posted. For instance, MSPB surveyed Federal Career Interns, and a quarter of them reported that it was difficult to find out about internships in their agency.82 Furthermore, agencies that hired career interns cited college recruitment as a leading recruitment method.83 While college recruitment can be an effective recruitment strategy, it can exclude from consideration qualified individuals not currently pursuing a college degree.

"To address inefficiencies and inequities in the Federal hiring system, the Government has created a number of sanctioned alternatives to the competitive examining process. For instance, the Federal Career Intern Program and other excepted service hiring authorities do not require traditional competition in which applicants are rated and ranked. However, some of these alternatives can impede fair and open competition and advancement based solely on relative ability. In addition, they can result in unsound hiring decisions and can actually create disincentives to invest resources in good recruitment and assessment practices.

"While excepted service appointments do not require agencies to follow competitive examining procedures, the process is still in a real sense competitive (yeah sure!). Applicants submit an application, and their qualifications are evaluated against what is needed to perform the job (Not a chance these days!) . However, recruitment and assessment rules are not as proscriptive as those in the competitive service. Unfortunately, this fact can also serve to reduce fair and open competition and advancement based solely on relative ability.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Social Security Regional Commissioner Responds to Nepotism Charge

Well, I wrote my Senator, Herb Kohl, and he contacted the Chicago Regional Commissioner, James Martin. Mr Martin sent me a letter in response to The Congressional inquiry. Not surprisingly, he states "I want to assure you that our recruitment methods fully comply with all Merit System principles". At the end of the paragraph he gets down to business telling me of all the different "hiring authorities" they have and says "Our managers determine which job announcements should be placed on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) public site:" (We already know that the answer is few if any at all).

In his second paragraph he discusses the position in LaCrosse filled by Ryan Kulinski, son of the Milwaukee Downtown Office manager. He explains how the aforementioned Federal Career Internship Program allows federal agencies to recruit "exceptional" candidates for a 2 year program of training and development assignments. I guess we should be comforted to know that most of the people hired by Social Security are so "exceptional". Certainly (in Mr. Martin's world)no average American off the street could be as "exceptional" as the friends and relatives of managers, so why let the average American know about these important jobs.

He goes on to mention that the managers of Social Security Offices go to "recruitment outreach events or activities" and develop by that method the pool of candidates from "members of the public". Going to job fairs excuses all questionable selections. Here is what really happens: The managers, wanting to get out of the office (why stay and manage), go to job fairs at colleges. They might even get a free lunch. Beforehand they tell the people whom they want to apply to go to the job fairs. They then take the resume's of the attendee's who want to be considered. They then toss those they have no interest in, and hire whomever they wish with no real oversight. That is democracy Mr. Martin style.

And so the nepotism and cronyism goes on. Agencies become more corrupted by this pernicious inbreeding and we all see service go down the toilet as favored government hires (exceptional in Martin's parlance)bask in their sixty thousand dollar a year jobs, while the average person's child, newly graduated, wonders why he or she can't get a job. Does Senator Kohl or any of our congressional representatives care enough to assure that any American can have a fair chance at employment in the Government? The answer, I fear, is probably not. At least we could save some of the taxpayers money by taking down the usajobs website, since it doesn't do what it purports to do.